18 Quick Dinner Ideas After a Long & Tiring Day

  • By Jennifer Mulder
  • 5 September 2022
  • 5 minute read
18 Quick Dinner Ideas After a Long and Tiring Day | The Health Sessions

If you’re a regular reader of The Health Sessions, you might have noticed that I love ideas on how you can make it easier to put healthy and comforting meals on the table when you struggle with limited energy and mobility. From using a slow cooker and putting sheet pan dinners in the oven to prepping freezer meals for sick days, there are several ways you can save energy while cooking.

However, many of my go-to strategies that require less effort often do require a long time in the oven/crockpot, or some planning ahead and meal prepping in return. But sometimes, after a long and tiring day, you just want a bowl of food now, and not wait another 30 or 45 minutes before dinner’s ready.

What can you do to quickly whip up a meal that’s still healthy and satisfying? Something that ideally doesn’t require a massive amount of chopping or cleaning up afterwards?

First of all, when available and affordable, buying pre-cut vegetables, sliced proteins or fresh pasta helps to speed up the cooking process. You don’t have to splurge on these foods for every dinner, you can save this luxury for those occasions when you know you’ll be too tired for much cooking – like after a long day in the hospital for example.

The right equipment will also make it easier to whip up a quick meal. A wok enables you to prep a stir-fry in no time, while a large skillet comes in handy for one-pot dinners that’ll save you a load of dishwashing.

And finally, remember you don’t have to pack all the superfoods, nutrients and toppings into one dinner. It’s ok if some nights you have a very simple meal, and your bowl doesn’t look Pinterest-worthy.

With that in mind, here are 18 healthy and quick dinner ideas for tiring days. 

1. Stir-fry

Stir-frying is everyone’s go-to quick dinner strategy for a reason. It’s easy, healthy and fast – thanks to the hight temperatures of the wok, you can often make a stir-fry in less than 15 minutes. Having pre-cut vegetables, sliced meat or leftovers from the day before saves you a lot of time and energy. Also choose ingredients that require little cooking time, like mushrooms, bell peppers, broccoli, strips of chicken and beef, and noodles of course.

You can wok any combination of (plant-based) protein, vegetables and carbs, plus an easy spice mix or sauce, but here are some healthy and quick stir-fry recipes for more inspiration:

Spicy Tahini Tofu Stir Fry from Eat Well 101

Quick Dinner Ideas: Spicy Tahini Tofu Stir Fry from Eat Well 101 | The Health Sessions

One Skillet Cashew Chicken Stir-Fry from Eat Yourself Skinny

Quick Dinner Ideas: Cashew Chicken Stir Fry from Eat Yourself Skinny | The Health Sessions

15-Minute Lemon Garlic Butter Steak with Zucchini Noodles from Eat Well 101

Quick Dinner Ideas: Lemon Garlic Butter Steak with Zucchini Noodles from Eat Well 101 | The Health Sessions

2. Eggs

Eggs are budget-friendly and versatile proteins that make a tasty meal any time of day, including a quick dinner. Eggs provide you with high-quality protein, healthy fats, vitamin D and nutrients that supports good vision and brain health. What’s more, omelettes, frittatas or shakshuka are a delicious vehicle for getting more greens, fresh herbs and spices in.

If you want something a little more nourishing than the standard fried eggs on toast, give these quick recipes a try.

Mushroom-Spinach Scrambled Eggs from Skinnytaste

Quick Dinner Ideas: Mushroom-Spinach Scrambled Eggs from Skinnytaste | The Health Sessions

15-Minute Arugula & Tomato Frittata from Walder Wellness

Quick Dinner Ideas: 15-Minute Arugula and Tomato Frittata from Walder Wellness | The Health Sessions

Easy Shakshuka from Cook at Home Mom

Quick Dinner Ideas: Easy Shakshuka from Cook at Home Mom | The Health Sessions

3. Baked Potatoes

I know carbs have gotten a bad reputation over the past few years. But in a pure form – unpeeled and not fried – the humble potato is still a great source of fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium and antioxidants. Plus, there’s something about a baked potato that’s comforting and filling.

Now baked potatoes will take a long time to cook in the oven or wrapped in foil on the grill, but according to The Kitchn, you can have a single potato ready in 5 minutes when using a microwave. So check out their instructions and finish off your soft and steaming (sweet) potato with one of the following healthy toppings:

Loaded Baked Potato from A Couple Cooks

Quick Dinner Ideas: Loaded Baked Potato from A Couple Cooks | The Health Sessions

Fall Harvest Salad Stuffed Sweet Potatoes from Love & Lemons 

Quick Dinner Ideas: Fall Harvest Salad Stuffed Sweet Potato from Love & Lemons | The Health Sessions

BBQ Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes from Downshiftology

Quick Dinner Ideas: BBQ Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes from Downshiftology | The Health Sessions

4. Pita Pockets

If you have a toaster, pita pockets are a great choice for a quick dinner after a tiring day. Just pop your breads in the toaster for a few minutes, slice them open en fill them with the proteins and vegetables of your choice. You could heat up some store-bought falafel balls and hummus while grilling zucchini, or even simply fill your pita with canned tuna and cheese and have a simple salad on the side.

For more ideas on how to stuff your pita pockets, check out these quick recipes:

10-Minute Veggie Greek Pita Sandwiches from Fork in the Kitchen

Quick Dinner Ideas: 10-Minute Veggie Greek Pita Sandwiches from Fork in the Kitchen | The Health Sessions

Tuna and Chickpea Pita Sandwiches from Cooking Classy

Quick Dinner Ideas: Tuna and Chickpea Pita Sandwiches from Cooking Classy | The Health Sessions

Portobello Mushroom Gyros from Live Eat Learn

Quick Dinner Ideas: Portobello Mushroom Gyros from Live Eat Learn | The Health Sessions

5. Quick Pasta

Isn’t a bowl of pasta the ultimate comfort food after a long day? Of course it’s always a good plan to have some good quality tomato sauce (low in salt and sugar) and wholegrain/lentil pasta in the pantry so you can whip up a meal in no time. But fresh pasta like tortellini or gnocchi also make a quick dinner for nights when you’re not really inspired to cook.

Take a look at 3 pasta recipes that can be made in twenty minutes or less, and mostly in one skillet too:

Pesto Chicken Tortellini and Veggies from Julie’s Album

Quick Dinner Ideas: Pesto Chicken Tortellinis with Veggies from Julia's Album | The Health Sessions

Quick Gnocchi with Cabbage and Walnuts from Krumpli

Quick Dinner Ideas: Quick Gnocchi with Cabbage and Walnuts from Krumpli | The Health Sessions

Lemon Broccoli Pasta (One Pot, 20 Minutes) from The Food Charlatan

Quick Dinner Ideas: Lemon Broccoli Pasta from Krumpli | The Health Sessions

6. Mexican-inspired Meals

Want to enjoy Taco Tuesdays, even on days when you have little energy to cook? With a little planning and choosing the right ingredients, you can whip up a Mexican-inspired meal in 15 to 20 minutes. So spice up your weeknights with these load nachos, quesadillas and tacos!

Loaded Paleo Nachos from Paleo Running Mama

Quick Dinner Ideas: Loaded Paleo Nachos from Paleo Running Momma | The Health Sessions

Apricot Salsa Quesadillas from Top with Cinnamon

Quick Dinner Ideas: Apricot Salsa Quesadillas from Top WIth Cinnamon | The Health Sessions

Smoky Beans & Greens Tacos with Aji Verde from Pinch of Yum

Quick Dinner Ideas: Smoky Beans and Greens Taco from Pinch of Yum | The Health Sessions

Let’s make this list even longer: what’s you go-to quick dinner after a long and tiring day? 

For more energy-saving tips and tricks, learn the secret tool to healthy eating with chronic illness, even more strategies to effortlessly make a meal when you are tired, plus 9 tips and tools for healthy cooking with chronic illness

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